Category Archives: What is wrong with people?

Whoa: Mercury in HFCS

First that whole insane peanut contamination thing, and now this:

Study Finds High-Fructose Corn Syrup Contains Mercury

First off, thanks to Amy (soon to be Dr. Amy, PhD) for tipping me off to this.

Second, the or or whatever-the-HFCS-Marketing-Board-calls-themselves people can bite me. Hard. (We talked about those beyond ridiculous commercials promoting HFCS a few months ago here. If you are not in a mood for one of my rants, don't read that post.)

Third, I had a Dr. Pepper yesterday. A full-on, real Dr. Pepper with HFCS. It tasted good, if shocking because it had been a long time. But you know what? It wasn't worth it. If I'm going to take a chance with my body and future reproductive capability by ingesting mercury, it's going to be in the form of delicious, delicious tuna sashimi.

Now, if you read the full article (and I hope you do–I shouldn't be your primary news source any more than Jon Stewart is), you'll see that there's definitely technology to make mercury-free HFCS. So there are two ways to avoid the mercury contamination: 1) Stop ingesting HFCS, and 2) Push back and make contact with the comapnies that make your favorite HFCS-laden foods and call them and ask for mercury-free HFCS. If enough people push back, they'll do it. (Remember when goldfish crackers still had trans-fats? Consumer pushed back and now they don't.)

What's your take on this? Is it going to affect what you buy and eat? And which would you choose: sushi or soda?

Baby carriers and back pain

Baby carriers do not need to hurt your back. If you're wearing them correctly, you'll feel the weight of the baby, but it shouldn't be so painful that you need to take pain meds. If you are feeling that much pain, you can Google the name of the carrier you have and the word "instructions" and someone somewhere will have posted photos of the correct way to wear that carrier. Or else try a different kind of carrier, because there is no perfect one, and maybe there's a better one for your body.

In general, the closer to you and higher up you can put your baby, the less pain and movement you'll have. If you're using a Bjorn or Bjorn-style carrier (which I don't actually recommend because I think other styles are far less painful, notably the Ergo if you like a constructed carrier or a wrap carrier if you like less construction), make sure the cross in the back crosses below your shoulder blades. It should be where your bra strap goes. Here's a really old post on different kinds of carriers.

Also, wearing your baby should be something you do because you want to. Not because it's "in fashion" or because Dr. Sears tells you to. Do it because babies who are worn tend to cry less, or because you like having your little one snuggled against you, or because your baby won't stop !@#$%-ing screaming if you put her down, or because your best friend walked all the baby weight off by wearing her baby, or because you can't deal with your stroller, or whatever. But let it be because you want to. Not because the lady at the grocery store or the women on the message board or the misogynist ad-writers at Motrin tell you you have to and then make fun of you for it.

You are the parent. You get to decide.

Also, seriously–Lucky Magazine? I read you because I want to get away from the "moms should do this and that" crap that bombards me every effing day in this country. All I want from you is to know whether ruching is in this fall and how to wear suede booties with a sweater dress and why shea butter is the miracle that's going to solve all my hair problems. I do not want misogynistic mommy drive-by ads in your pages. If you want to take ads from the hacks at Motrin (who apparently have never heard of a focus group), force them to give you ads about pain and *actual* fashion. They could have done a heck of an ad about stilettos and other painful shoes, but they chose the easy, inaccurate, bottom-feeding low-hanging fruit. Don't participate in the proliferation of mom-guilt on the hardworking women of the world. We get enough of it every day from people wearing Christmas sweaters. We want your magazine to be a safe space.

I think I'm going out to buy a big bottle of Advil tomorrow.

(Hey–if you're feeling carpal tunnel-type pain from lifting or carrying a baby or toddler, before you despair or get cortizone shots or dope yourself up on a pain reliver that starts with M that I'll never buy again, try homeopathy. Go to a health food store and plunk down $6 for a tube of pellets of Rhus Toxicodendron. Get 30x if they have them–if not get whatever dose they have. Take one under your tongue three times a day. If it's the proper remedy for your kind of pain, you should feel less inflammation and pain within three to four days. Keep taking until the pain is gone. If it isn't doing anything after four days, then it's the wrong remedy for you, so you can stop. Safe for breastfeeding, and no interactions with anything else! I had debilitating carpal tunnel from lifting my horse of a firstborn, and his pediatrician, who is also a homeopath, prescribed Rhus toxicodendron for me, and it worked like a charm. So I'm passing it on to you, the pain sufferers of the internet.)

I saw it on TV so it must be true.

Has anyone else in the US seen these new, completely ridiculous commercials promoting high fructose corn syrup? They're made by the Corn Growers' Association or somesuch.

I've seen two versions. In each one person offers the other something laden with HFCS (grape drink–which used to be "sugar, water, purple," but is now "HFCS, water, purple"–or popsicles or something like that) and the offeree is horrified and says "But it has HFCS!" and the offerer patiently explains how HFCS is "nor worse than sugar" and is fine in small doses.

The first time I saw one of these commercials I laughed out loud, thinking it was a spoof commercial.

I still think they're funny, as in absolutely ridiculous. But I also worry that people will see them and think that HFCS is safe, and more similar to sugar than it is. I also think there are some vaguely racist overtones to the commercial with the black mom offering the grape drink and white mom refusing it. (If it's not racist it's at least unoriginal, and Dave Chapelle is way funnier. That link contains swearing, BTW, if you're not familiar with the oeuvre of Dave Chappelle.)

Also, it's just dumb. There are all kinds of things people ingest that are not good for them in large doses (alcohol, sweet, sweet coffee, etc.). But HFCS is not comparable to those things, because there are at least half a dozen easily-obtainable, affordable equivalents that are better for you (sugar, brown sugar, honey, agave nectar, stevia, maple syrup, even regular old corn syrup that's not high fructose). I don't have time to dig up all the sources about why HFCS is so much worse for us than any of those, but there is no doubt that research shows that our bodies just can't process it well.

The website they direct you to is also a big euphemism. Sweet Surprise? Sweet Surrender? Sweet Something-or-other? Sweet Extra-Cellulite-on-Your-Thighs-Because-HFCS-Can't-Be-Broken-Down?

I wanted to bring this up when I first saw the commercials, but now I've gotten five emails about them, so thought you guys would like to talk about them, too. I'm certainly not linking to them in the main post, but if they're up on the web somewhere and someone else wants to link them in the comments so the non-US readers can watch the insanity, go ahead.


I just did a very stupid thing.

The kids gave me a necklace for Mothers’ Day made of abalone shell and silver. Then my younger one was swinging it around and it came apart. So I Krazy Glue’d it together today. But I was distracted by talking on the phone as I did it, and glued it on backwards.

What are the chances I can get the silver and abalone apart without destroying the abalone? Is there anything that will dissolve Krazy Glue that won’t dissolve abalone? Who thought it was a good idea to sell me Krazy Glue in the first place?

Q&A: sarcasm or something

Natalie writes:

"Our kids are preschool age, and my husband uses what I think would be
sarcasm with them all the time….maybe it is just plain teasing.  You

He does things like this: He will be playing "chase" with
them (which I appreciate), but then when they run into their rooms to
hide, he will knock on the door, and yell, "Grandma is here!" When they
open the door, all excited, he will grab them and say, "I gotcha!"
Repeat this about ten times with ten different exciting promises (ice
cream, grandpa, candy, etc).  The kids get really excited, and then
realize he is teasing.  He also does this the opposite way, by saying,
at around 4 pm, "Well, it is time for bed", and one of my kids will be
to the point of tears, and then he’ll say, "Just kidding!"  Repeat five
times.  When I tell him to stop, he says, "Think how happy they are
when they see that I am kidding!  Hee, hee!"  He really is doing it to
have fun. 

I want you and your commenters to
tell me what you think:  Is this just plain kidding and I am just too
sensitive?  Or is it more than that?  What do you think?"

I think it’s mean. But I think it’s entirely possible that he doesn’t have any idea that it’s mean, because someone pulled that same crap on him when he was a kid and told him it was normal and he was being "too sensitive" if he didn’t like it. Alternately, it’s possible that he’s got some unconscious resentment toward the kids at this stage because he was treated meanly when he was that age, and so it’s coming out in this too-harsh treatment of them.

Don’t get me wrong–I love sarcasm and funny teasing that lets the kid in on the joke. (An example of that is answering a kid’s question with something so exaggerated that the kid knows you’re teasing and thinks it’s funny. "Mom, where are we going after school?" "First we’re going to buy some space suits, and then we’re going to drive to the moon!" Assuming the child is old enough to know that you can’t drive to the moon in a regular car.) But the teasing your husband’s doing isn’t letting the kids in on the joke. It’s just setting them up for disappointment and teaching them that they can’t trust what he says.

I have no idea how to resolve this situation. You could try giving him a taste of his own medicine, but telling him you were making his favorite meal for supper, or that you’d gotten a raise at work, or that you were dying to have a quickie right then, and then saying "I gotcha!" Or sit him down to tell him you’d gotten a letter from the IRS and you owed $50,000 in back taxes and penalties, and then say "Aren’t you happy to see that I’m kidding? Hee, hee!"

But something I can’t put my finger on really does make me think that he’s striking out at the kids like this because of some hurt that was done to him when he was this age that he may not even realize happened. I don’t know if giving him a taste of his own medicine is going to help much if he’s still carrying that hurt around in him. Maybe you could start a conversation about things that adults did when you were little that you hated. (I can start: There was one distant relative we’d see a few times a year who would always offer to pour a drink for me and say "Say when," and then when I’d politely say, "Thank you" he’d keep pouring until the drink overflowed and then say, "You didn’t say ‘when" and give a big laugh. Jerk.) It may come out without his realizing it was there.

Anyone else? Do you agree with me that this is more harmful than funny? And what can Natalie do to stop it before it seriously harms her husband’s relationship with their kids?


Q&A: parents sticking up for child

Eric writes:

"I am not a parent yet, but will probably become one soon. I have an question about raising children that I was hoping you could open for debate. I was fascinated by the debate over the peanut allergies on the playground, and this in a similar vein.

I regularly read Wil Wheaton’s blog, and he recently had an entry called The Butterfly Tree ( This entry describes one of his memories, where he and his family went to a Parent’s Night, where parents would come to see sort of a "school day lite". And during this, through no fault of his own, Wil gets the equivalent of his name written on the board. I hope you read the entry in full, because I’m doing a bad job of summarizing it concisely, but essentially it’s about the fact that his parents didn’t stick up for him when he was punished (warned or cited really) through clearly no fault of his own.

This story made me think of what I would do with my own kid, if the situation presented itself. And I have no doubt that it will. One the one hand, we can tell that this unfair incident traumatized the kid (not severely, but still), and he was unfairly punished (quote-unquote punished). If I was a kid and that happened to me, I would be very upset not only that I was a victim of an unreasonable accusation, but also that my parents didn’t support me, especially when they were there to witness it. Silence gives consent. So doing nothing, you’re left with the sense that your parents either approve, or are too lazy to do anything about it, that they don’t care. That’s nothing a parent should be known for, especially in an instance that seems to be resulting in inequitable treatment to my child. Fair’s fair, and what kind of lesson am I teaching my kid by not coming to his defense when clearly he was falsely accused? I want to teach him that you should fight against things that are clearly wrong, and not just capitulate.

On the other hand, what good would a confrontation do? What would a parent say to her? What is going to be gained? We know that Mrs. Krocka is probably a witch. Either she’d argue back, or she’d acquiesce, but really, what would get done? And Wil wasn’t really punished anyway. As he says, his name was right back to normal the day after (when the good teacher came back). When you’re a little kid, these things that seem like a huge deal really aren’t. The kid doesn’t know that, but the parents do.

My wife’s a teacher so I know how frustrated they get by constant barrages of ignorant parents who never think it’s their fault their kid’s eating crayons and not really learning anything. I would never want to aggravate a teacher in such a way because I know what they go through, and I know they’re not trying to screw up my kid,they’re just trying to do the best they can.

So that’s the question. Should Wil’s parents have gone back in and argued with the teacher, defending him against an unjust punishment, or write it off, consider it a lesson in life not always being fair. Or am I making too big a deal out of this? :)"

(He signed off with "long time reader, first time writer," which made me feel like either Mike or The Maddog. Awesome!)

It seems to me that there are a couple of elements of this situation that need to be considered separately. One is, obviously, whether the parents should have confronted Mrs. Krocka. But first, let’s talk about the other element, which is how his parents acknowledged Wil’s feelings. In the story they didn’t. That, I feel, is the biggest mistake in this whole episode. The parents should have acknowledged Wil’s feelings, even if they weren’t able to stick up for him in front of Mrs. Krocka. As soon as they were out of the school building, they should have apologized for not being able to stick up for him, validated that he hadn’t done anything wrong, and acknowledged that he was wronged in the situation.

It could have been a really valuable lesson to learn that sometimes you get the short end of the stick, but your parents are still there for you even when they can’t change the outcome of the situation. Instead, he just felt abandoned and misunderstood. It takes so little to make kids feel understood, but it sounds like Wil’s parents were just overwhelmed and didn’t know how to do it.

Now, about confronting Mrs. Krocka. Technically, what should have happened is that one of the other parents should have stood up to Mrs. Krocka, pointed out that she was being really unreasonable and over-the-top, and smoothed over the situation. That way there wouldn’t have been any awkwardness with Wil’s parents sticking up for him, and it would have reinforced the social norm of not picking on innocent kids in the classroom. (Seriously. What was wrong with her?) We should all remember that in unfair situations the bystander has way more power to stop abuse of power than we think. Speak up if you can.

Now, should Wil’s parents have spoken up for him to Mrs. Krocka? In my opinion, yes. It wasn’t like he’d been doing something wrong and knew it and she just came down a little hard on him. He really did nothing and she humiliated him in front of a room full of people just because she could. The only lesson that taught him was that he couldn’t count on his parents.

But I don’t think we can really judge them, because it sounds like they were overwhelmed with their lives and were afraid of Mrs. Krocka. I really do think the other parents should have picked up the slack and stopped Mrs. Krocka from trampling Wil.

Opinions? Did Wil learn a valuable lesson, or was he left hanging by the adults in his life? How should his parents have handled things?


Follow-up from Annie

Remember Annie’s creepy "birth mother" comment from her son’s caregiver at daycare? She sent me an update on the situation:

"I confronted the caregiver and she claimed
that she never said anything like that.  It was a difficult situation- I
didn’t want to accuse her of lying but I know what I heard.  I approached
the conversation from the stand point of- "well, here is how I feel
because this is what I thought you said."  I also told her that when
I was visiting my son she didn’t need to spend a lot of time and attention on
him.  Prior to talking to this caregiver I spoke with the second caregiver
in the room and asked if she had seen anything alarming or heard anything
strange.  She understood why I would be upset but said she didn’t see or
hear anything that would set off any red flags.  Since my conversation
with the caregiver she is not as friendly with me and is often short in her
responses, I haven’t seen any additional alarming behavior though.  We’ve
been so very happy about the care our son has received- and really have had no
complaints- aside from this major one. This incident has definitely been disappointing-
as all of you know- child care is a very complicated and difficult entity- the
guilt can be over whelming, but knowing that your child is well taken care of
and happy at the establishment certainly makes things easier to deal
with.  Because of our experience with this place we have decided to
continue with care here.  Happily my son is moving into a new room starting
at the end of May. 

Thank you so much for all your comments
and words of advise- I will definitely post again to this site- I appreciate
the support that I received!"

Q&A: why can’t I love this? (Edited)

(Hey, I just realized that I forgot to add the word "all" in my sentence about not being able to do it all without anti-depressants. Ha! I meant to write that no one can do it all without anti-depressants. Certainly you can do some of it without anti-depressants. If you can cut yourself some slack. But again, another sign of depression is not being to cut yourself some slack. Just be gentle with yourself, OK? If you need to go anti-depressants, please do so. If you don’t need them, I certainly didn’t mean to imply that all mom are on them–that would be as much of a fallacy as the idea that all moms are happy all the time. I’d like to banish any statements starting with "all moms are" anyway.

Now I’m going to go read the comments. I hope no one got alarmed or had her feelings hurt by my leaving out the word "all.")

Sorry about that. All the rain did something to the cable connection to our building,and I couldn’t get on the internet to post anything. (I’m about to post my comment on Monday’s work question at the end of that post. I agreed with all of you, of course.)

Here’s one I’ll also need your support  with. Lucy writes:

"This a pretty vague question: but how can I relax and enjoy motherhood more? I had a great pregnancy but a difficult birth with my daughter who is now 8 months. Tough recovery and breastfeeding problems followed and now, though she sleeps and eats well, I’m always worrying about something or beating myself up. I know that I need to let go of expectations and be more zen, but keep finding that so difficult as an erstwhile professional who is used to having everything under control. I don’t want to look back and realise I’ve missed out on the good times. I think part of the problem is that I forgot I was going to have a baby and was looking forward to being mum to an independent 3 year old!"

I think basically all mothers are victims of propaganda. We’re allowed to think that pregnancy is all positive, wonderful rainbows and sunshine, but a huge percentage of us have hormone-related depression that makes us feel horrible and sold out. Let’s not even talk about the delivery and birth, which have so much baggage attached to them even before we get to the tough painful part. (Let’s think about it–labor and delivery hurts like hell coming or going already. Isn’t that enough? Why add all this strange mythology to it, too to give all of us a nice case of pre-post traumatic stress disorder?) And if you adiopt, well, we don’t even know how to think about that, et alone talk about it. Then we get to the actual motherhood, and it’s really hard and there’s no real reward for weeks and weeks, and then the reward is just a smile.

And yet everyone, at every stage of the game, keeps saying, "But it’s sooooo worth it."

Well, duh. Yes, it’s worth it. Your children are the joys of your life. But. It still sucks at all stages of the game, either a little or a lot.

People give sympathy for the first few months, because they’re like being captured by aliens. But by the time your baby is 8 or 9 months old you’re supposed to ahve a handle on it. The baby is plumped up and sweet-looking, like a magazine baby. Everyone in your mother’s group is lying and saying their baby is "sleeping through the night " (5 measly hours! Is it even a worthy goal?).

But it’s still really hard emotionally. I kind of think that that’s about the age when it starts to sink in that this IS the New Normal. Whether you’re at home or at work all day, the baby exhausts you. And then there’s the whole nighttime routine, and middle-of-the-night stuff. And thinking about the food all the time. But you’re also supposed to have lost all of the baby weight, and having an amazing sex life with your husband, and  be up on current events, and either totally present at your job or gleefully happy about being at home.

Honestly, it’s just too freaking much. No one can do it [all] without the help of anti-depressants.

So, Lucy, my advice to you is to cut yourself some slack. All those moms who look so zen (and people tell me I’m one of them–apparently I look calm all the time) are really just fantasizing about having a night alone in a hotel with nice sheets and no one else there wanting something from them. It’s not like everyone else is totally in the moment and you’re not. Everyone’s dropping the ball in one way or another. It’s just that some of us are forcing ourselves to be OK with dropping those balls.

It does not pay to be perfect. Even if it was possible, it’s a crappy way to live. 8 months is hard. You’ll like 3 years better. If you can accept that now isn’t your favorite time and see your daughter as equally captive to her normal developmental stages, it might be easier on you emotionally.

Anyone else? Did you have any big "I don’t have to be perfect" moments you’d like to share? Any "I hated this stage but ended up loving the next one" times? Freestyle bitching about feeling sold out by our culture is also welcome.

Hey–once again I’m late for work! No time to spellcheck.